Bruny Island Ferry

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The Bruny Island ferry Mirambeena en route from Kettering to Roberts Point

The Bruny Island Ferry links Bruny Island to the Tasmanian mainland. Operated by North Western Shipping and Towage Co. Pty Ltd and owned by the Tasmanian Government, the ferry Mirambeena travels between Kettering on the Tasmanian mainland and Roberts Point on Bruny Island. The service is subsidised by the Tasmanian Government.


Four ferries have operated on the route since 1954:

  • S.S. Melba (1954–1961, then as a reserve until approximately 1977)
  • Mangana (1961-early 1980s, then as a reserve for the Harry O'May until 1991)
  • Harry O'May (early 1980s-early 1990s)
  • Mirambeena (early 1990s-)

S.S. Melba[edit]

The S.S. Melba was built in 1921 as a cargo steamer to operate on the River Derwent. She commenced operations as a single-deck vehicular ferry on the Bruny Island run on December 13, 1954,[1] with a capacity of 22 cars.[2] She was the primary Bruny Island ferry until the arrival of the Mangana in 1961. After that date, she continued on the Bruny Island run, assisting during peak periods and when the Mangana was under repair.

In 1975, the Tasman Bridge disaster created an urgent short-term need for ferries operating across the River Derwent. The Melba, despite frequent strandings due to her deep draft, operated between Hobart and Bellerive.


The Mangana, originally known as the George Peat, was one of two 42.06 metre-long single-deck ferries built in 1930 to operate a service across the Hawkesbury River.[3]

After a stint operating on Auckland Harbour, the 42.06 metre long ship (now known as the Ewan W. Alison) was purchased by the Tasmanian Government in 1959. Although both the Ewan W. Alison and its sister ship the Alexander Alison were purchased from their New Zealand operators for use on the Bruny Island run, the Alexander Alison sunk on April 30, 1960 while being towed across the Tasman Sea. Seven months later, the Mangana was successfully towed across the Tasman, and commenced operations on the Bruny Island run on March 27, 1961. The Mangana was named for a Chief of the Bruny Island people, whose daughter Truganini is generally considered to have been the last full-blooded Tasmanian Aborigine.

The Melba stayed on to fill the gap left by the loss of the Mangana's sister ship.

The Mangana, with a capacity of 37 cars,[2] was the primary Bruny Island ferry until the early 1980s, staying on as a reserve ferry for the Harry O'May until 1991.

Harry O'May[edit]

Formerly the Hong Kong ferry Man On, the Harry O'May operated the Bruny Island route in the 1980s and 90's. Its two decks greatly increased carrying capacity relative to the smaller earlier ferries.

Move from Barnes Bay to Roberts Point[edit]

Prior to 1983, the Bruny Island end of the ferry service terminated at Barnes Bay. The trip from Kettering to Barnes Bay took around 35 minutes. The change of route to terminate at Roberts Point meant that the one-way trip time was reduced to 12 minutes.[2]


The Mirambeena began operation on the Bruny Island run in the early 1990s. Completed in 1991, it is a 52-metre two-deck ferry equipped with a Voith-Schneider propulsion system.[3]

When the Mirambeena is being serviced, other vessels operate the run. Recent replacements have included:


  1. ^ "Barnes Bay Bruny Island Tasmania". Archived from the original on 2008-07-06. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  2. ^ a b c "Tasmanian Industrial Commission Decision T No 74 of 1985". Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  3. ^ a b "Australian Maritime Safety Authority List of Registered Ships". Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  4. ^ Bruny News No 341, August 2009, p.26

External links[edit]